Archives for category: women

I woke to the alarm. My coffee this morning is a tasty Americano. I am wrapped in modest comfort, and feel safe, cared-for, and content. It’s a nice start to a Wednesday.

I hadn’t been up long before I started feeling that weird nagging sensation that is my half-aware recognition that there’s something I meant to do… right. Chickens. I mean, I’d said I would send my chicken references to Her. (Damn, She really needs a better nickname here…) I was delighted to hear her say she’d like to have chickens (me too!!). It felt like a connection, as much as a shared interest.

I put aside my writing to fulfill this commitment, and email over the links to vendors, resources, references, catalogs, and feel warmed by participating in something we share. I remember her asking about pets… I find myself not recalling why, at first, then – her dogs. Of course. πŸ™‚ Chickens – any livestock, really – are pets enough for me. I like creatures. The small wild lizards everywhere there delight me. The inquisitive jays and wily crows make me smile. Her dogs are fun and friendly. What else could I want? Chickens. LOL It’s a small thing to share an interest with another human being. We are so many, and so many of us share interests. It feels good to connect with another person. Get their views. Hear their thoughts. Share my own. Practice listening more than talking, while I’m at it. lol (Still so human.)

I hit send. Finish my coffee. Contemplate the brief remainder of the work week. It was rainy yesterday. There is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. I’m okay with that. My arthritis is less okay with it. I think about the climate “down there”… “at home”? (Can I say that? I want to. It is a vision of one possible future that I do find very enticing.) My arthritis didn’t bother me pain-wise the entire weekend I was down visiting my Traveling Partner and Her. (Fuck. I need a better name for Her. Something playful and fond.) I still dealt with the stiffness, some, but it wasn’t so bad. The weekend here is likely to be rainy. I’m likely to be in pain. Still… there is much to do and to enjoy.

It’s a good time to winterize the deck and the potted garden.

It’s a good time to give the place a thorough cleaning in preparation for the holidays to come.

It’s a good time to light the pilot light on the gas fireplace for the cool autumn nights and cold winter days ahead.

It’s a good time for a last visit to the Farmer’s Market – maybe the big one downtown?

It’s a good time for long autumn hikes through colorful fall forest along unexplored trails.

There’s nothing fancy on my calendar this week; this one’s for me. A simple enough quiet weekend at home. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, tidying up, reading a book with my feet up by the fire, sipping coffee in the afternoon…

“WhatΒ  are you doing this weekend?”

Everything. This precious mortal lifetime won’t just live itself. πŸ˜€

 

Beautiful weekend. The sort of beautiful weekend I mark on a calendar, look back on frequently, contemplate, wonder over, and reference in the future. So… I’ve marked it on my calendar. I’ve been looking back on it, already, contemplating it, wondering over it, and here I am in my own “future” (at least, I’m one day beyond the weekend) referencing it. It represents change. It whispers to me about love, family, and contentment. It was weird. Beautiful. Unexpected. Relaxed. Delightful. Peaceful. It was filled with the company of friends, defined by long moments of joy and contentment. It was easy to find stillness – and to enjoy companionship.

I spent the weekend with my Traveling Partner, down at his place, which he shares with his other partner, who was an ex of mine. I put that in the past tense, because I use the term “ex” very specifically, and sparingly, to refer to former (and now discontinued) partnerships and relationships which have been firmly, permanently, completely, entirely, and without any potential future, ended. No continuing contact. “I’m done with that.” She definitely doesn’t fit that definition, now, although I lack language to define our current… situation.

I had a great weekend at her place. I enjoyed her company and her conversation. I realized that there are things I have missed about her (duh, we were in a relationship, once). She was a gracious and delightful hostess this weekend. We had a good time (I say, based on my own experience, from my perspective, without any cause to assume she feels differently, and having heard her affirm the same in her own words). I’ve been invited back, and not just by my Traveling Partner. Wow. I feel so welcomed. I felt so very much at home, in my relationships, as well as wrapped in the gorgeous landscape of Southern Oregon’s Oak Savanna. Beautiful sunrises. The warmth and connection of dear friends and family. It was a wonderful weekend.

It was a splendid autumn weekend, it’s only fitting that it came with a wonderful view. πŸ™‚

The flora and fauna are lovely down there… I want to say “at home” or “back home” or… Yes, I liked it there that much, and for the quality of the company as much as for the landscape. Relationships matter. There was no hint of tension or animus between her and I, and that was lovely. Recognizing that one can indeed “begin again” allows me to do so, even with relationships. It’s a little scary; it could go very wrong (this, whispered to me by the hurt child lurking within, who is, frankly, no judge of good quality relationships at all). The big challenge of new beginnings, by far, is letting go of old baggage… so…

…I begin again. πŸ™‚

Let me circle back on one detail; this was all her. I didn’t take the step across that firm moment of having ended things years ago. I don’t know that I would have. I’m not sure I’m that skilled as an adult. I experienced a moment of powerful respect for this woman who did put her fears and baggage aside, stepped up to me and started a new conversation. “I’d like to start over.” She couldn’t have chosen better words – aren’t I all about beginning again? Wow. How could I not agree? Still, though, this was her moment. I’m still pretty blown away. Nicely done, Woman. Hell of a teachable moment. πŸ™‚ I’m still smiling.

It was a lovely weekend spent with my Traveling Partner, and his lovely Other (who clearly needs a better nickname, here), walking the land, and talking about the future. Our future. (Wow.)

Now here it is Tuesday. The long weekend is over. It’s time to face a new work week. It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.

I’m not sure what the hell happened… it’s a tattoo. Just a tattoo. Sure, emblematic of my political thinking. Possibly a bit more “meta” than that – even quintessentially “me” in some way I can’t quite describe with ease. I painted it more than a decade ago. It was intended to be the “other” piece – the left shoulder and the right shoulder – my softer side on the right shoulder, my harder side on the left… how I got where I am, versus why I made the journey, perhaps. Layers of meaning speaking volumes about the fundamentals of the woman I am.

Today is weird. I got the tattoo yesterday. I’m still enjoying an exceptional “whole body” experience of pain relief since then, which is quite wonderful, and rather unexpected…but… What the ever-loving-fuck is going on with my headspace??. I feel… cracked open… and somehow more complete. I feel… more myself for having the new tattoo there. But… I also feel less reserved, less restrained, less well-controlled… ah, but perhaps that makes sense; it’s an emblem of anarchy. A personal statement of who I am – a statement I have not made so boldly, firmly, or publicly, before. Permanent ink. This? This is me. This won’t wash off. It is inarguable. lol

I feel somehow freed. Unchained. I mentioned it to a friend, who suggested it sounded like a great idea for a blog. I don’t think I agree there; I already have so few filters and so little ability to be measured, careful, discreet, subtle, or diplomatic. I don’t really see that I do myself any favors by straight up embracing the disaster that would surely follow abandoning what little I do have. LOL So. No. But I can write about this peculiar morning, this strange moment, these odd conversations I have been having today that seem somehow to suggest that a few people are only now waking up to some of what I’ve been saying all along… and one of them may be… me. How extraordinary.

It is a day to listen deeply to the woman in the mirror, before she surprises me further. Apparently… we need to talk. πŸ™‚

Living alone sometimes also means feeling lonely. I’m fortunate that it doesn’t come up that often for me; I enjoy living alone. In the words of my Traveling Partner, I “thrive on it”. It’s true. I’m content, I’m happier, I rarely struggle with my symptoms (aside from noise sensitivity and shitty sleep), and it’s been ages since I had a bad meltdown. My symptoms and bad flare ups are mostly triggered by… people. So yeah, living alone works better. But.

Life is a funny thing, is it not? It seems, often, to force me to deal with the shit that is the most difficult when I feel least prepared to do so. Living alone works for me. But. And it’s what comes after the but that is a heavy burden to bear this morning – and I’m “not alone” on this one – but, I am lonely. This morning I ache with it. I woke with it. I went to bed with it. I felt it as a sharp pain late last evening, cuddling the wee stuffed puppy my Traveling Partner gave me as a gift on a whim. (I already love this little stuffed dog, fully house-broken, and very quiet. lol) Loneliness is a real thing, and I really feel it now and again, and it is painful. Anxiety may be a liar, but loneliness? Loneliness is a bully who follows me home, relentlessly mocking me where I am most vulnerable.

Loneliness is actually painful. When you feel it, and you notice, and you wonder that you actually physically hurt – no need to keep wondering, that shit is real. It is uncomfortable. Biology probably intends to drive us to seek out companionship, which makes good sense; we are social creatures, who thrive in company, who succeed together, who celebrate in groups and tribes and families… alone we are… vulnerable to attack. Less well-defended. Small. Singular. Loneliness sucks, and chronic unaddressed loneliness can become mental illness or physical ill health, and even be fatal.

The little stuffed dog surprised me; gift wrapped and left on the front seat of the car, which I’d come to pick up for the week of moving, a couple days early since he wouldn’t be using it, himself. There it was. Soft. So soft. Cute button eyes that sparkle a bit. So soft. I turned to my partner has he came around the corner smiling and tears came to my eyes. His embrace wrapped me in warmth and love and we stood wrapped in each other’s arms a long moment. I miss specific things about cohabitation, mostly to do with intimacy and touch. Like it or not, I’ve made a specific willful exchange in life; I have exchanged hugs, kisses, everyday interactions, contact, intimacy, and frequent sex in favor of improved mental and emotional health (it is generally an unmistakably positive choice that benefits me).

An alternate spelling of “I love you”.

Today, I am lonely. I ache with it. I miss being greeted at the door when I get home in the evening. I miss shared meals. I miss hugs – I miss hugs maybe most of all, even to the point of hugging occasional strangers (in contextually appropriate moments) (if you know me in life, you get how hilarious this actually is). I miss being an everyday part of my partner’s life. I miss having sex, pretty much any day I don’t get to. This morning all of these things make me feel sad. I’m also feeling fairly practical and realistic about it, and understand myself well enough to “get” that it isn’t about inviting random strangers into my bed (didn’t work in my 20s, isn’t the solution now), but I am unquestionably still searching for a really comfortable balance between living alone, and finding/creating the quantity of emotional intimacy and touch that I need to be emotionally well over the long haul.

This morning is hard. My hand reaches without thinking to the little stuffed dog. I scratch its ears as though it were real. I stroke its soft “fur”. A real dog? A real cat? Other pets? I’ve got both baggage and boundaries in this area. Pets are not a good solution to the loneliness issue for me. Β I used to have cats. They absolutely destroyed some precious things I could not replace…and… they walk in their poop, then all over everything else. Just no. Dogs? I grew up with dogs. I even like dogs. But… being responsible for another living creature’s entire livelihood and well-being isn’t something I’m super well-qualified for, frankly, otherwise I might have done the motherhood thing… and… dogs smell bad (to me), and caring for a dog well is a huge time commitment…and… okay, okay, I just have baggage and it wouldn’t be a great fit, can we leave it there? lol Chinchillas? More chaos and damage, and… they seem to me to be every bit as sentient as any primate, so that just feels too much like keeping a prisoner. I can’t. Guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, reptiles… I’ve had pets. Lots. (I’ve got an aquarium now, and that’s about my speed, really.) They don’t fully “solve for X” in this equation.

Filling the hole in my experience labeled “I miss being touched” with animal companionship would be, realistically, a second best (for me). Instead, I’ll attempt to be more aware of my needs, learn to communicate them more clearly, learn new/more/other ways to take care of me that may meet those specific needs – bitch about it, undoubtedly – and walk on, wiping my tears away and getting back to other things.

But. I do get lonely. Yes, it hurts. Finding some sanity, contentment, and balance are actually worth the hurting right now, even in this shitty lonely moment. I just have to begin again, and do my best to take care of the woman in the mirror. We’ve always got each other. It’s generally enough.